Managing unhelpful thoughts & trusting ourselves with food
Suzanne Manser, PhD
Licensed Psychologist

Free Iffirmations Workbook!

Iffirmations are an effective mindset-management tool that I’ve been writing a lot about lately (check out my last newsletter, blog article, and Instagram posts). Iffirmations encourage our minds to consider a different way of seeing ourselves and life by asking “What if?”

What if I could fully accept myself?

What if there is no “right” way to be or to do life?

What if I could make something meaningful happen today? 

Iffirmations are powerful in the gentle way that they invite our brain to imagine a different way of thinking. Our minds are more receptive to them because of their question format.

I’ve written a little workbook to help people use iffirmations to make changes in their lives. I’ll be sending it to all of my subscribers next week!

If you’re not yet a subscriber, sign up here to receive the workbook as well as my quarterly(ish) newsletter and notifications about my newest articles.


I'll have another free iffirmation giveaway for November: a month of daily iffirmations, delivered right to your inbox each day!

Subscribers will receive an email from me in the next few weeks about how to sign up. I’m really looking forward to this one!


Tool of the Day: 

Books on a Bookshelf

This is a great strategy for dealing with unhelpful thoughts.

We all have stories our brains tell us about ourselves and life. These are the thoughts that tend to show up often and just loop, over and over. They’re very convincing - their persistence makes it hard not to listen to them, even when they’re wrong or, more importantly, unhelpful.

The goal of this strategy is to see these stories for what they are – stories, not truths that we have to abide by.

To do Books on a Bookshelf, first identify the unhelpful, repetitive stories that show up in your brain. They might be something like, “I’m not smart enough.” Or “Everyone’s just being nice. No one really likes me.” Those are two of mine.

Next, imagine a big bookshelf in front of you, filled with different colored books. 


When you come closer and look at the titles, you realize that these are the stories your brain tells you. There’s a book called, “I’m not smart enough” and another titled, “Everyone’s just being nice. No one really likes me.”

Now, when one of those stories shows up in your head, go back to the bookshelf. Imagine it right in front of you. See yourself reaching for the book, and then realize that you don’t need to pull it off the shelf. You don’t need to read it or even open it – you’ve read that book thousands of times already. You know how it starts and you know how it ends and you know everything in between. You know it’s not helpful.

Practice not picking up the book. Leave it there - you don’t need it. When the story shows up in your head, look for another book, one that’s got a more helpful title, like “I’m totally smart enough.” or “What if I am smart enough?” Pick that one up instead. If it doesn’t exist yet, start writing it.

By visualizing your stories as books on a bookshelf, it’s easier to see that you have the power to choose not to pick up a particular book. You have the power to decide not to listen to a story or a thought, but first you have to realize it is just a story. Just because your brain tells it to you doesn’t mean you have to listen. Choose to listen to a more helpful story.

 Check This Out

Aware: The Science and Practice of Presence - The Groundbreaking Meditation Practice

by Daniel J. Siegel, MD

"Aware provides practical instruction for mastering the Wheel of Awareness, a life-changing tool for cultivating more focus, presence, and peace in one's day-to-day life.
An in-depth look at the science that underlies meditation's effectiveness, this book teaches readers how to harness the power of the principle "Where attention goes, neural firing flows, and neural connection grows." "


Eating Disorders Corner

“Food is not the enemy. Self-hate is.”
— TheLoveYourselfChallenge

 This corner is devoted to addressing eating disorders, disordered eating, and body image. I have specialized in treating people with all of the above since 1999. It is a large part of my work and my heart. This corner is for those of us on the journey of disconnecting our worth from our size or what we eat.

Can we be trusted with food?

How do you decide when and what to eat? Do you look to yourself for the answers, or do you go to external sources? Do you trust yourself when it comes to food?

Diet culture and its close cousin eating disorders have us convinced that we can’t trust ourselves with food. They tell us we are not capable of eating “reasonably” if we only listen to how hungry we are and what we’re in the mood for. And we buy it; we truly believe that if we listen to ourselves, we will go overboard all the time and never choose anything but sugar or chips.

And on those rare occasions when we do allow ourselves sugar or chips, we do tend to go overboard. That’s when diet culture and the eating disorder show up and say, “See?? I was right! You need to be saved from yourself!”

In actuality, we go overboard on foods that we’ve restricted, and we go overboard on foods that we believe we shouldn’t be eating. Exactly what diets and most eating disorders set us up for.

In actuality, we gain weight back because our bodies are biologically programmed to gain weight back after it’s been lost. It might take a few years, but this happens for 98% of diets.

The food is not the problem, and our willpower is not the problem. The problem is that diet culture and eating disorders have convinced us not to listen to ourselves. They’ve convinced us to not eat enough of what we want because food is “bad” and “dangerous” and we are “weak.” They’ve convinced us that we need their protection and wisdom.

Diet culture and eating disorders have us looking outside of ourselves for answers about when and what to eat. We’ve learned to make these choices based on someone else’s rules. We make choices about which foods to eat not based on what we’re hungry for but based on what our diet plan tells us we can have. And generally, the plan doesn’t allow us to eat until we’re full.

We’ve learned to allow ourselves to eat only at certain times or intervals. We make ourselves wait when we’re hungry because it’s not the “right” time or it hasn’t been “long enough” since our last meal. Somehow our hunger is not only irrelevant, but both wrong and bad.

It’s time to stop this nonsense. Diet culture has taught us that we can’t be trusted for the sole purpose of making money. We believe that if we were eating right, our bodies would look like [insert current ideal-bodied model]. This is fully false. For the very large majority of us, our bodies are supposed to be bigger than that person you just pictured who has the current ideal body.

Nothing about what diet culture teaches us is based on health. Restricting food is not helpful in the big picture – weight loss is almost never permanent or healthy. And it leads to overeating, sooner or later, or both. So let’s please please please stop listening to it!

If you are caught up in the nonsense, as most of us are, consider learning about intuitive eating (IE). There’s a book (Intuitive Eating), and there are IE therapists and dietitians who specialize in helping us re-connect with ourselves and learn to trust ourselves again with food. There is another great book (Reclaiming Body Trust) by the folx at the Center for Body Trust, another useful resource.

We can be trusted; it’s diet culture and eating disorders that can’t.


Look for part 2 of this article, Tips for Trusting Ourselves with Food, in the next newsletter.

Latest Blog Posts
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How To Stay Out of Other People’s Heads
You do it. I definitely do it. We hang out in other people’s heads, trying to figure out what they’re thinking about us. We’re trying to create safety for ourselves,…
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Do you own a scale? How often do you weigh yourself? Why do you weigh yourself? Most of us step on the scale because we’re trying to lose weight or…

vol. 2, issue 3

My intent with each issue of this newsletter is to bring more ease, self-acceptance, meaning, and fulfillment into our lives.


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